Water and Energy Conservation Opportunities in the Paper Industry

RP Siegel | Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

img-water-quality As we study the key systems upon which our human population depends, it quickly becomes clear that water and energy are essential. Not only are they essential, but they are also inextricably linked. It takes energy to move, heat and purify water. It also takes a great deal of water to produce energy, whether it’s from hydropower or from thermal power plants, both nuclear and fossil fuel-fired.

The most prominent example of this interdependency is in agriculture, which uses enormous quantities of both energy and water. The paper industry differs from agriculture for a couple of important reasons. First, 72 percent of the fiber used in paper comes from trees which are rainfall-fed. This, in water conservation parlance, is considered green water – which is distinguished from surface and groundwater, referred to as blue water. Agriculture also depends on rainfall, but in many cases it is supplemented by a great deal of additional water via irrigation, which is why the industry is by far the largest water consumer in the nation.

Most of the water used in the paper production life cycle is used during the manufacturing process, primarily for conveyance of the fibers as they are extracted from logs as wood chips, and through the pulping process. By the same token, most of the energy used in paper-making goes into cooking the pulp, in order to remove the fibers, and drying the wet fibrous mat as it comes out of the paper machine before it is rolled up and ultimately cut into reams or converted into cardboard. According to this Energy Star report, more than $7 billion worth of energy was purchased in 2009 for the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard. This is primarily used as boiler fuel for both process-steam and power generation.

Of course, there is an opportunity to do things in a smarter and greener way. There is a great deal of residual biomass such as bark that could be used to produce energy. International Paper does exactly that, generating 72 percent of its energy from forest residuals. The company has also been working to improve energy efficiency, with a goal of a 15 percent reduction in purchased energy by 2020. An investment of $290 million has led to a reduction of 9 trillion BTUs per year.  At current coal prices, that will pay for itself in 8 years, though if natural gas is substituted, it could take longer. Since 2010, the company has reduced its purchased energy usage per ton of paper by 3.7 percent.

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Buying Gas Gets Easier with SAP, Toyota, VeriFone Technology

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

old station_pete zarriaThe day when technology rules the road gets closer all the time. SAP AG, Toyota InfoTechnology Center and VeriFone have developed a prototype system that features a one-touch screen that directs drivers to the nearest gas station and authorizes payment electronically.

And the driver can even receive personalized coupons! Promotions! Loyalty points!

It’s called connected fueling in the connected vehicle — a brave new world for the fossil-fuel consumer. The companies announced the prototype at the 14th SAP Automotive Forum, early this month in Leipzig, Germany.

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How This Residential Care Home Bumped Employee Engagement Into Overdrive

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a three-part series on dynamic governance, a new way to run either for-profit companies or nonprofit organizations. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.

employee engagement Mealtime at Living Well Care Home and the Ethan Allen Residence includes farm-to-table foods made from scratch, with a chalkboard list of which farms provided the ingredients. A naturopathic physician is the medical director, and yoga and Tai Chi classes are available to residents. Inspired by Feng-shui, the rooms have warm and inviting colors. Essential oils are used as cleaning products, all of which are nontoxic. What might sound like a high-end spa are two innovative senior care facilities in Bristol and Burlington, Vermont.

When Dee DeLuca and a small group of like minded folks acquired Living Well, a 15-bed residence, 10 years ago, and Ethan Allen, a 34-bed home, last year, she had a vision of transforming these senior care facilities into loving and supportive environments where elders could thrive with few or no medications, natural foods and holistic treatments. This vision, along with a dynamic framework to govern the organization, was instrumental in the shift from business-as-usual, in an industry where high employee turnover, isolated residents and processed food are common.

“With dynamic governance, we are working with creativity,” explains DeLuca, executive director and co-founder of Living Well. “The typical bureaucratic structure [with top-down decision-making] leaves a lot of unmet needs on the table. With dynamic governance, the needs in the organization get met in a much more efficient way – and we have more fun!”

Employees who have a say in how they work are engaged employees, with a high level of commitment to the decisions they make. Many studies have shown a strong relationship between employees’ workplace engagement and a company’s overall performance. A 2013 Gallup poll estimates that only 13 percent of workers worldwide are engaged, resulting in $300 billion in lost productivity annually in the U.S. alone, as well as higher rates of absenteeism, safety incidents and turnover. To put it simply: Disengaged employees erode the bottom line.

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Upcycling Gets Famous With New Reality Show Series

Sherrell Dorsey
| Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

 Teracycle, upcycling, pivot tv, pivot television, recycling, terra cycle, tom szaky, waste stream, recycling stream, human resources pivot tv, reality television, reality television human resources, sustainability, eco products, recycled products, post consumer wasteOne might assume that handling trash every day for a living might be a smelly job. But for the crew of designers, nerds and Captain Planet-pushers at upcycling firm TerraCycle, trash is a profitable problem that keeps on giving.

On August 8, PivotTV viewers will get a sneak peak inside the world of TerraCycle’s upcycling empire when its original, unscripted docu-comedy series “Human Resources” kicks off for a 10-episode run.

“Human Resources” follows the wacky, fast-paced work environment of the TerraCylce team as they come up with solutions to eliminate the concept of waste. The mash-up of eclectic personalities run the gamut as they bend the rules of corporate America, perform rain dances in the middle of the work day, break for early-morning yoga in the conference room and share kale chips with their in-office pets.

With more than 120 employees in several cities around the world, Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle, encourages both mischief and antics among his lively staff of eco-geeks, scientists and the occasional apathetic employee.

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MillerCoors Cuts Water and Energy Use, Pilots Sustainable Barley Farming

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Coors canNext time you reach for a MillerCoors brew, you can rest assured that the company is doing its part to be environmentally sustainable.

The company has greatly reduced its water and energy usage, according to its latest sustainability report. From 2012 to 2013, MillerCoors reduced the barrels of water it takes to brew one barrel of beer by 9.1 percent. The second largest brewer in the U.S., the company also slashed energy use by 15.6 percent from 2012, saving 1.6 billion mega joules of energy last year. MillerCoors has eight major breweries, and all of them reduced energy use.

Water is a big part of brewing beer, so reducing its usage is not an easy feat for any brewery. From 2011 to 2013, MillerCoors saved over 1.1 billion gallons of water. That’s enough water to fill 1,783 Olympic-size swimming pools or meet the needs of more than 11,500 average American households for a year. One of the ways it achieved the water savings is by converting its Fort Worth Brewery from steam heating to a pasteurizer reclaim system, which uses recirculated water instead of fresh, incoming water to cool beer after pasteurization. It also installed water reclamation systems in six of its eight major breweries, which saves tens of millions of gallons of water a year.

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Recap of Twitter Chat: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders with Raytheon

Alex Vietti
| Wednesday July 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

947134_10151695745342340_1114553427_nHow does a company link community success to business success?  With the release of Raytheon’s 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report, we talked with Pam Wickham, vice president of Corporate Affairs and Communications for Raytheon, who provided her insight live on Twitter.

From sustainability to supporting its communities, the aerospace and defense technology company is making a tangible impact by aligning its corporate social responsibility initiatives to its business goals.

For instance, how does Raytheon attract world class talent to its ranks amid declining student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)? What does the aerospace and defense industry’s aging workforce and shortage of technical talent mean to Raytheon’s future? What is the company doing to empower the millions of veterans returning to civilian life?

Storify Recap:

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Can Companies Restore Consumer Confidence After a Data Breach?

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday July 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TargetDuring the holiday shopping season last year, about 40 million consumers who made purchases at Target stores had their credit and debit card numbers stolen by hackers that invaded the company’s payment card readers; another 70 million Target customers also had their personal contact information – names, addresses and telephones numbers – compromised.

The fallout from the retail giant’s data breach was dramatic: As of February, Target had spent $61 million to pay for legal fees, software updates, customer reimbursement and credit monitoring, and other costs due to the failure in cyber security, the Washington Post reported. The company has also been hit with more than 140 lawsuits, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and its CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned – over both the security failure and the company’s less-than-successful expansion into Canada.

But even more importantly, last year’s data breach eroded customer trust, which was demonstrated in Target’s sales numbers after the breach: The company’s profit dropped almost 50 percent in last year’s fourth fiscal quarter and fell by more than a third for all of 2013, the Washington Post reported.

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CSR Asia Highlights the Benefits of Sustainable Palm Oil

| Tuesday July 8th, 2014 | 2 Comments

palmoilPromulgating the notion that they are developing “green” biofuels, the palm oil industry has actually been associated with a wide range of predatory business practices, extensive damage to ecosystems and biodiversity, and an abundance of air pollution and carbon emissions.

For more than 15 years, affected communities and environmental and public interest NGOs, as well as governments, have been pressuring palm oil producers to clean up their act. In a new white paper, CSR Asia, in partnership with Oxfam, examines the experience of ‘the little guy’ – smallholders participating in the palm oil value chain – with an eye towards instituting equitable, sustainable business practices industry-wide.

Focusing primarily on the work of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) – which was established in 2003 to define and implement sustainable palm oil standards – CSR Asia focuses on “the certification of sustainable palm oil and the opportunities that this can provide for smallholders.”

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Shared Value Branding: The End of Brand Marketing as We Know It?

3p Contributor | Tuesday July 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Christophe Fauconier 

2409745545_6fe97506f3_zAt Unilever, a team develops partnerships with the World Toilet Organization and Vietnamese institutions to build decent sanitation in schools. Another fosters the development of a network of community caterers with grassroots partners in South Africa to fight crime by fighting hunger. At Coca-Cola, a group engineers partnerships with the Chinese government and a crowd-funding program to create clean water access for the millions of children around the country who currently drink unsafe water.

These are not CSR or sustainability experts; they are marketers, and these activities are part of their brand plans. So if you believe the job of a brand manager is to create new products and ad campaigns, you may have missed something…

Marketing today is expected to not only create value by making products and services desirable, but also to nurture purpose brands that can better the world with shared value strategies. A recent launch by Coca-Cola China shows how it totally re-invents the job of brand managers.

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Fairtrade International Aims to Open Climate Finance to the Underserved

| Tuesday July 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

fairtrademug With developing countries driving economic growth and energy use worldwide, adopting climate-friendly clean energy and sustainable development pathways in these nations has become a priority for the U.N., World Bank Group and other multilateral lending organizations, as well as governments, around the world.

Providing local small businesses, cooperatives and communities with streamlined, cost-effective access to international climate funds continues to be a major sticking point, however. Voluntary, private carbon offset credit systems providers and international organizations founded on principles of equitable, sustainable development have stepped into the breach, reaching out to communities with less in the way of capital, market access and other resources.

An example of this is a collaborative agreement between Fairtrade International and The Gold Standard. Joining forces to leverage and capitalize on their respective strengths, the two organizations on June 13 opened up the formative-stage Fairtrade Carbon Credits (FCC) Standard to an initial round of public consultation.

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Unilever Competition to Fund Innovative Ideas from Young Social Entrepreneurs

Sherrell Dorsey
| Tuesday July 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ashoka, unilever, unilever entrepreneurship competition, university of Cambridge programme for sustainabile leadership, social entrepreneurship, social impact, social impact competition, garbage clinical insurance, Gamal Albinsaid, ashoka changemakers Multinational consumer goods company Unilever is asking young leaders to prove what they’re doing to help build a sustainable future. Now, in the second year of its Sustainable Living Entrepreneurs Awards, the company — in partnership with Ashoka and the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership — is inviting young people (ages 30 and under) to come up with practical and innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Seven stellar entrepreneurs will be awarded a total of more than €200,000 (US$272,000) in financial support, in addition to mentoring, to help scale their services or applications.

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Advocacy Orgs Back Vermont In Suit Against GMO Labeling

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday July 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment

gmo_vermont_suit_lloydthevoidWith the lines drawn over Vermont’s recent passage of a GMO labeling law, two advocacy organizations have announced that they will file a motion to intervene in a lawsuit launched against Vermont by national food manufacturers.  A third has stated it will file an amicus curiae in support of the embattled state law. A motion to intervene is usually filed when an organization or person feels they would be affected by the suit, such as consumers, grocers and farmers in Vermont.

Paul Burns, executive director of Vermont Public Interest Group, said in an interview last week that VPIRG will be filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association et al. With approximately 30,000 members, VPIRG is one of the largest consumer and environmental groups in the state.

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Is Walgreens a Sustainable Company Given Its New Tax Avoidance Strategy?

Raz Godelnik
| Monday July 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

WalgreensI consider myself a regular customer at Walgreens – I shop there at least once or twice a week. For some reason I thought I knew the company quite well, at least when it comes to sustainability issues, but this week I’ve learned a new fact that I wasn’t aware of:

Walgreens is considering a move abroad to lower its tax rate.

As Andrew Ross Sorkin reported in the New York Times, Walgreens “is now considering moving the company’s headquarters to Switzerland as part of a merger with Alliance Boots, a European drugstore chain. Why? To lower Walgreen’s tax bill even further.”

According to Americans for Tax Fairness, Sorkin adds, “a move by Walgreen to Switzerland would most likely cost United States taxpayers about $4 billion over five years.”

So what does it mean exactly, and what should Walgreens customers like me do about it? Here are five things to think about:

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The Circular Economy is (Slowly) Coming to Europe

Leon Kaye | Monday July 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment
circular economy, Leon Kaye, European commission, zero waste

The European Commission wants to shift to a circular economy as landfills reach capacity.

Despite the increase in recycling programs, new technologies turning trash into energy, growing consumer awareness about electronic waste and more efforts made to compost, trash is still a mounting problem. This is particularly true in Europe, where mandates to reduce landfill waste have not stopped residents from pitching the majority of their garbage. Now the European Commission is trying to nudge the economic bloc into adopting opt a more circular economy.

To that end, late last week the EC last week adopted a framework to ramp up waste diversion and recycling efforts in its member states. Moving past the current nations’ obligations to divert half of their trash from landfills by 2020, these proposals are far more aggressive. By 2030, Europeans will be asked to recycle 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 percent of packaging waste. The EC also recommends a total ban on the burial of recyclables in landfills by 2025 and suggests new proposals for slashing marine waste at sea and food waste on land.

To score a buy-in from the bevy of states that together form the world’s largest economy but at the same time comprise a fickle group, the EC is positioning this proposal as one centered on economic growth.

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Big Agriculture Looks to Africa

Michael Kourabas
| Monday July 7th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Students walk through a school farm in Mozambique.

Students walk through a school farm in Mozambique. Small farms like this one may be at risk of being gobbled up by corporate land-grabs and a potential agricultural “gold rush” in sub-Saharan Africa.

As the world begins to awaken to the looming food crisis — how we will feed 2 billion more people by the year 2050 — investors are turning to a place not typically associated with its agricultural bounty, but a region that National Geographic Magazine (NatGeo) is calling “The Next Breadbasket”:  sub-Saharan Africa.  In its July edition, NatGeo’s Joel K. Bourne Jr. (aided by predictably stunning photos from Robin Hammond) points a wide lens at the issues raised by the creation of giant agricultural developments in sub-Saharan Africa, including some of the potential benefits as well as the likely pitfalls.

First, why sub-Saharan Africa?  The short answer is that the region has the most potential upside, or what is referred to as “yield gap,” on Earth.  This essentially means that Africa is home to an enormous amount of arable land, yet the continent produces “roughly the same yield Roman farmers achieved  … in a good year during the rule of Caesar.”  Put another way, less than 5 percent of arable land in the sub-Saharan area is currently irrigated, and farms in the region are not reaching anything near their potential output.

This is likely true for a number of obvious reasons, and NatGeo’s Bourne lists the clear culprits:  poor infrastructure, limited markets, weak governance and brutal civil wars.  The other key ingredient is the amenability of African governments, some of which are willing to overlook (or inadequately safeguard) the property rights of their citizens in favor of influxes of foreign cash and the attendant benefits.

The “why now” is two-fold.  On the one hand is the impending food crisis, which is centered on the African continent and which, for most of Africa, is not really impending but has been plaguing the region for years.  Second, there’s the real driving force:  the potential monetary upside for investors.  As Bourne puts it, “Since 2007 the near-record prices of corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice have set off a global land rush by corporate investors eager to lease or buy land in countries where acreage is cheap, governments are amenable, and property rights often ignored.”  Large Chinese and Brazilian companies have eyed the “millions of acres of fallow land and plentiful water available for irrigation” and seen the potential for massive profits.  It seems only a matter of time before others join the party as well.  In fact, Bourne points out that a recent conference in New York for agricultural investors drew some “800 financial leaders from around the globe who manage nearly three trillion dollars in investments.”

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